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China Bouquet – Fujian Tulou

2018-10-29 | | Art China

The full moon fills the house with its bright light. The bright house now looks like a moon on earth.

Celestial light falls from the dome-like skies, into Tulou scattered on land. Her gender hands caress the old wooden planks darkened by days, red fu(happiness) on the wooden doors, red Chinese lanterns lit up one after another, and worn-out,stripped mud walls. You'd think you have gone back in time. Since the Chongzhen reign of Ming Dynasty (1628-1644), Chengqi House has been home for generations of the Jiang family. The"king of Tulou (Earthen Building)" has four floors, and was built in the pattern of four concentric circles.

Except for round buildings like Chengqi House, other earthen buildings distributed in the misty valleys in southwest Fujian include Jiqing Building which is round on the outside and square on the inside, the rectangle-shaped Shengqing House, and mini-round tower Rusheng House, as well as oval and octagonal ones. In one shape or another, these earthen buildings are like geometrical symbols dotting the land next to the verdant layers of terrace fields. With mountains and water by their side, they look well spaced in every way.

Tulou, or a"building made of earth," was first built by the Hakkas following the design concept of"men of nature", fengshui and good trigrams. Fending off mountain burglars and beasts, these houses are the homes the Hakkas live in and castles they guard. Now the drifting days are well behind us, but their earthen witnesses are still there, standing, for the next hundred years. The cultural and aesthetic values of Tulou cluster are increasingly prominent, inspiring artists in their creative process.

Interview of Liang Ming: The reason why I have special feelings toward Tulous and have been creating works around them for decades is that I am Hakka, to start with. Tulou is a symbol of the Hakka culture and spirit. Each time I go to one, it seems to put new ideas in me, which is why I have pursued change in painting them for decades. In the early days I focused on presenting their looks and appearances. Now I [focus] more on what they stand for, like how they fit in the nature, which is a relationship of heaven, earth and people.

A painting is what the painter's heart has in it. Liang's feelings toward the earthen buildings have brought forward, with paints and ink, the lives of Tulou clusters that shine the colors of a rich human culture. In those squares and circles repeated time and again, the painter is able to express a history filled with dust, nuances of seasons and days, mysteries of our mother nature, and memories that could transcend time and space.

Many have been imprinted in Tulou, be it festivals where people sang and danced, or daily life when they cooked and ate. The earthen buildings are closed, as each one of them is a whole world in itself where generations of Hakkas live and enjoy quality family time. They are also open, in that millions would come from afar to experience the unique living style.

Tulou encircles the past and the present of the Hakkas. Here, traditional customs and modern lifestyles co-exist and live off each other. Just as you are a habitant in Tulou, a Tulou is itself a habitant on our planet earth.

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